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Airway Compromise in Children

8.29.17 in General

Healthy Mouth Sounds- Airway Compromise in Children


Since we have already established that form follows function, and that the key to an adequate airway is a nice wide maxilla, we should be able to spot some “architectural” issues in children who exhibit signs and symptoms of airway compromise.


What signs may we see? Let’s start with restless sleep, snoring, mouth-breathing,  enlarged tonsils and adenoids, scalloped tongues, clenching and grinding of teeth.


Remember, when we appreciate these kind of findings, we should ask ourselves, ”could this be an airway issue?”  And putting your thinking caps on, let’s connect some dots.

Might a child who does not get rested with a normal night sleep, perform less well in school? Perhaps focus and attention deficit is evident. Sometimes the most obvious sign of an issue is a behavioral problem. Only after also noticing some structural abnormalities, do we tie the problem to airway.


In children, early and accurate diagnosis can be life changing, and requires a healthy degree of suspicion on part of a provider. So who is this child at risk?


Perhaps a child with a very forward head posture at rest. Elongated face, narrow palate, perhaps, malocclusion of teeth, and chronic tonsil and adenoid inflammation.


There are various ideas about why a compromised airway may be formed. These include, absence of the tongue adequately residing in the palate, due to cessation of breast feeding too early. Transition to soft food diet, bottle feeding, and thumb sucking habits have also been implicated.


The good news is, that when identified, airway development can improve with treatment at birth or even later.


Next blog we are going to address the predisposing factors to airway compromise; However, we will be taking a break from blogging until 2018. Happy New Year!

So, stay tuned in and keep smiling. Dr. W.

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